Architecture on Film: From Smith to Sottsass, London

The Architecture Foundation’s leading series of cinema, documentary and art enters its fifth year and this Autumn the foundation screens a showcase of 14 short films across two curated presentations. Previously offering 13 UK premieres across 25 screenings, the foundation is concerned with how moving image can represent and offer new perspectives on design and the city. Architecture on Film: From Smith to Sottsass details a portrait of London through the eyes of artist and filmmaker John Smith and also hosts an evening of experimental films from the influential design avant-garde of 1970s Italy.

Opening 24 September, this edition marks the fifth anniversary of Architecture on Film with a special chance to view a London-focused compilation of the work of filmmaker, artist and Londoner John Smith, programmed as part of the Barbican film season Urban Wandering: Film and the London Landscape (19 September – 2 October). Joining the proceedings in person, Smith discusses his relationship to London and this idiosyncratic body of work, which takes the UK’s capital as subject, material and ally. The filmmaker will present films he has shot over a 25-year period in an ever-changing London – from the Dalston of the celebrated classic of 20th century experimental filmmaking, The Girl Chewing Gum, to the pre-M11 Leytonstone of Blight – to present Smith’s singular combination of humor, documentary and formal ingenuity, which here invites new readings both of the city and of film itself.

Returning in November, The Architecture on Film series showcases an evening of experimental short films by the finest of Italy’s 1970s design vanguard (Joe Colombo, Ettore Sottsass Jr., Gaetano Pesce, Superstudio and more). Initially commissioned for an influential 1972 MoMA New York exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape – described at the time as “one of the most ambitious design exhibitions ever undertaken by the Museum of Modern Art” – the film’s often provocative cosmic abstractions and adaptations of design thinking to the moving image continue to resonate, influence and intrigue, through visions of future living scenarios and critical utopias. Accompanying the screening, which will show these important films together for their London premiere, is a special introduction from academic, writer, and curator Peter Lang, and has been programmed in response to the Barbican Art Gallery’s autumn exhibition Pop Art Design.

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Blight. Courtesy of John Smith and LUX, London.